India has approved Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine in an effort to boost the country’s vaccination drive amid soaring case numbers, the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) that markets the jab said Tuesday.
While India has already approved two other vaccines, the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot and the India-developed Covaxin, the country of 1.3 billion people continues to battle the world’s second-highest number of new coronavirus infections. India is the 60th country in the world to approve Sputnik V, according to the RDIF.
India’s Drug Controller General authorized Sputnik V for emergency use based on the jab’s clinical trial results in Russia and local Phase 3 trial results conducted in partnership with pharmaceutical company Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories, the RDIF said.
“We appreciate the decision of India’s regulatory bodies to grant authorization for Sputnik V,” RDIF head Kirill Dmitriev said in a statement.
“Approval of the vaccine is a major milestone as Russia and India have been developing an extensive cooperation on clinical trials of Sputnik V in India and its local production,” he said.
Dmitriev told Indian broadcaster NDTV that the first doses could be ready by late April or May, with ramped up production by June.
“We believe by June, we will really be at good production capacity in India and will become a very meaningful player in vaccination program in India,” he added.
Sputnik V already has production agreements in India, home to the world’s biggest vaccine manufacturer, to produce 852 million doses.
St. Petersburg’s Surrounding Region Faces Sputnik V Shortages
The Leningrad region of Russia which surrounds its second-largest city St. Petersburg is facing shortages of the country’s homemade Sputnik V vaccine, local media reported Monday.
While Moscow has boasted of its global deliveries of Sputnik V, which has been approved in over 50 countries, concerns over Russia’s capacity to produce enough doses for its own population have persisted.
Just 975 Sputnik V doses remain in the entire Leningrad region, with 282 people receiving either the first or second dose in the past day, the St. Petersburg-based 47news.ru news website reported, citing the regional health committee.
Previously, an average of 3,000 people per day had been receiving the vaccine across the region, which has a population of roughly 2 million. Overall, 61,572 people in the Leningrad region have been vaccinated, half of whom (37,288 people) have received the second dose.
The local Health Ministry did not confirm to 47news when a new batch of vaccine doses would be delivered to the region.
Following reports of Sputnik V shortages in St. Petersburg last week, authorities vowed to replenish the shrinking supplies. A batch of 15,300 doses was delivered to the city on Friday, the first shipment since February.
However, reports have said that this supply would only be enough for 6-7 days at the current rate of vaccinations.
Currently, only 90 out of the city’s 129 vaccination centers are operational, the Fontanka.ru news website reported Friday.